Toowong, St Lucia to West End Green Bridges Confirmed After Overwhelming Support

After a four-month consultation period and more than 4,000 responses from the locals, the locations of the third and fourth green bridges to link West End to Toowong and St Lucia have been confirmed.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said that the bridge from Toowong to West End will have its landing sites at the former ABC property on Coronation Drive and Forbes Street in West End. About 83 percent of the residents agreed to this proposal, whilst 64 percent supported the plan to have a green bridge at Guyatt Park in St Lucia to connect to West End’s Orleigh Park. 

Photo Credit: Brisbane City Council

Mr Schrinner said that the new owners of the former ABC site, Consolidation Property Group, have been aware of the proposal, which will become part of its upcoming development plans.

Council will soon be working on a detailed business case that will carefully map out the estimates and benefits of the Toowong to West End and St Lucia to West End green bridges, including the funding and time frame for construction.

“We will now proceed to develop business cases for each of these bridges and commence detailed design work. The rise of e-mobility is illustrating just how important major infrastructure like this is to connect communities and reduce our reliance on motor vehicles,” Councillor Ryan Murphy said.  

Meanwhile, Council said that the Toowong to West End green bridge will be able to cater to 3,400 trips a day in 10 years. Per the residents’ response, the Toowong site is third on the priority list after the construction of the green bridges in Kangaroo Point and Breakfast Creek. These bridges are earmarked for construction by late 2021 and should be completed in 2023.

Only the fifth bridge’s location has yet to be determined. 

Toowong ABC Site: New Developer Plans a Waterfront Residential Precinct

The former ABC site in Toowong has been sold to another developer which has plans to build a waterfront residential precinct sometime in mid-2022, pending the submission of a development application.

Consolidated Property Group bought the prime riverside property from Sunland for $43.5 million after months of negotiations. Sunland, which purchased the ABC site in 2013 for $20 million, also proposed a residential development, which was rejected at the Supreme Court in 2018. 

James MacGinley of Consolidated Property Group said that they are hoping to have two or three residential buildings with 200 to 250 dwellings on the 1.5-hectare lot. The development will also include a waterfront open space and wider cycle paths to link to St Lucia’s Bicentennial Bikeway.  

However, the design still hinges on Council’s upcoming Green Bridge development, which is still in the public consultation process. Mr MacGinley said that they will “welcome the bridge on our site” and look forward to transforming the precinct into a luxury riverfront community.

Don O’Rorke, the chief executive of Consolidated Property Group, said that they have a more “conventional vision” for the former ABC site and will follow a code-assessed application. Potentially, the heritage-listed Middenbury House could be transformed for public use as well, either as a spa or restaurant. 

Maiwar Greens MP Michael Berkman has staunchly called on the Council and the State Government to buy back the ABC site to develop as a public community space. He said that this new deal between Sunland and Consolidated Property Group was a missed opportunity “to return this site to public hands.” 

Photo Credit: Google Maps

“I do think it’s positive that the green bridge could still land here, as my understanding from hundreds of conversations with west side locals is there’s overwhelming community support for this,” Mr Berkman said in a statement. “I’m concerned the developer hasn’t specified how much of the land will be public space, and how accessible it’ll be, or what form that might take.”

“Under our incredibly broken planning laws, the community has no genuine consultation or appeal rights on this development because it’ll be Code Assessable. This is exactly why we need to overhaul the Planning Act and make all major developments impact assessable.”

“The developer has indicated they’ll seek community input on planning the site, so my focus now is ensuring residents’ voices are heard. Stay tuned for next steps.”

Petition Launched to Buy Back Old ABC Site for New Toowong Riverside Park

A petition seeking to buy back the old ABC site on Coronation Drive and turn it into a public park is gaining numbers following news that Sunland Group plans to sell the 1.5-hectare site. Local Greens MP Michael Berkman, who has been seeking to build a public park in the abandoned property for years, launched the petition and renewed his calls for the Government to give Toowong its green space. 

Sunland Group bought the old ABC site in 2013, years after it has been sitting idle. However, its development plans failed to take off after a back and forth in court until the Supreme Court rejected its three-tower proposal in 2018. 

“This 15,000m2 riverfront site should never have been privatised by the former federal Labor government. It has sat empty and derelict for almost 15 years, and now the private developer owner Sunland is putting the site up for sale,” Mr Berkman wrote in his petition, which has since logged nearly 1,500 signatures within 24 hours. “This beautiful riverfront land should be a publicly owned community space, with things we can all enjoy like a park, a public pool, gardens, a community centre and more.”  

“This is a golden opportunity: the developer is clearly trying to offload this land during the COVID-19 downturn, so the government could either buy it for a good price now or let it sit empty for years while the new owner waits for better market conditions,” Mr Berkman said in a statement. “Right now this land is sitting vacant and derelict while locals cry out for more public green space to offset growth, with a major 25-story development planned for the former Woolworths site up the road, and the Toowong-West End green bridge proposed to land at exactly this site.” 

To increase public awareness and encourage more people to sign the petition, Mr Berkman posted a photo of the Toowong Swimming Pool from the 1960s. The pool was publicly funded and built in 1909 but the Council sold the property in 2001. 

Photo Credit: Michael Berkman – Greens MP for Maiwar/Facebook

“Nowadays there would be hundreds of private pools within a few kilometres of this spot, but most people don’t have access to a place to swim locally,” he said on Facebook. “I think it’s time for a public pool for Toowong and the west side, and the old ABC site would be a perfect location.” 

Mr Berkman also did a survey among Toowong residents in 2019 and learned that 88 percent want the old ABC site to be a “publicly owned riverside park with things we can all enjoy, like a pool, gardens, a dance hall or a new community centre.”

“This should be a non-partisan issue,” the MP reiterated. “So the local community and I are asking Labor and LNP representatives to work together to return this land into public hands.”